Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said that the issue of Cham rights remains one of the thorniest problems in talks between Athens and Tirana.
Speaking on Albanian TV, Rama dismissed recent remarks by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias according to which Greek and Albanian officials are not discussing the Cham issue.
“Kotzias did not hear well. The Albanian side is intensely seeking to put the Cham issue on the table,” he said, acknowledging, however, that progress made on other issues of bilateral concern should not be jeopardized.
“We will insist because it is an Albanian issue,” the Albanian premier added. “We are talking about Albanian citizens who in the past had property in the Greek state… who have bitter memories.”
Tirana’s demand for the erection of a monument to the Chams in Epirus, northern Greece, is a “justifiable demand,” he added.
Commenting later on Friday, Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos rebuffed Rama’s calls. “Everyone would like to enrich their national interests [but] we will never accept the existence of a Cham issue,” he said.
The Chams believe they have a right to the property they left in Greece when they were expelled between 1944 and 1945 during World War II. Athens argues that the Chams were Nazi collaborators and does not consider that they have any valid claims.